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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Soloway

The Art of Highlighting: Illuminating Your Masterpiece

Art is a wondrous realm where creativity knows no bounds. It is a language that speaks to the soul, and artists use various techniques to convey their emotions and messages through their creations. One such powerful technique that can elevate the impact of a painting is highlighting. In this blog, we will delve into the art of highlighting, exploring its essence, a few examples to inspire your artistic journey, and how it can transform your artwork into a captivating masterpiece.

What is Highlighting?

Highlighting is an art technique that involves the skillful use of light and brightness to emphasize certain elements of a composition. By accentuating specific areas with lighter tones, artists can create a sense of luminosity, depth, and focal points that draw the viewer's attention. It is a game of contrasts, where light plays against dark, allowing the subject to come to life and engage the observer.

The highlighting technique is nothing without shading. If you are unfamiliar with shading take a look at my blog about that. Now lets look at a few examples of highlighting:

A sketched portrait pointing out the highlights on the face
  • Portrait Perfection: In portraiture, highlighting is crucial to portraying a subject's personality and capturing their essence. By illuminating the cheekbones, forehead, and nose while carefully shading the other areas, an artist can create a three-dimensional effect that gives life to the portrait.

Image of a still life ball pointing out the highlights and shadows of the ball
  • Still Life Brilliance: In still life paintings, highlighting can breathe life into inanimate objects. For instance, the soft glow of a candle's flame or the glimmering reflection on a glass surface can add realism and visual appeal to the artwork.

beautiful mountain landscape with a before and after of adding the highlights to the painting
  • Landscape Luminance: Highlighting can be exceptionally breathtaking in landscape art. The interplay of light on leaves, the sparkle of a sunlit river, or the rays of the setting sun breaking through the clouds can evoke a sense of awe and wonder.

architechtural sketching showing how shadows and highlights make specific areas of the building pop out
  • Architectural Marvels: Highlighting plays a significant role in architectural drawings and paintings. By skillfully illuminating specific architectural elements like columns, arches, or windows, artists can showcase the splendor and grandeur of the building.

The art of highlighting is a technique that can elevate an artwork from ordinary to extraordinary. By mastering the interplay of light and shadows, an artist can create depth, bring focus to essential elements, make lips look juicy, tears look sorrowful, and evoke emotions in the viewer. Whether you're a seasoned artist or a novice exploring the world of art, learning how to effectively use highlighting can be a game-changer in your creative journey.

So, next time you pick up your brushes or pencils, iPad or Camera and Photoshop remember the magic of highlighting. Experiment with the way light dances across your canvas or paper and watch as your art takes on a new dimension. Embrace the beauty of contrast, and let your creativity shine through the art of highlighting. Your masterpiece awaits, illuminated with the brilliance of your artistic vision.

Much Love,


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